|Meeting Minutes 9 PDF||8||97 KB|
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Wednesday 16 May 2012
10 am – 1.30 pm
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
7 London Circuit, Canberra, ACT
|Jackie South||DAFF – Chair|
|Helen Walker||DAFF – Animal Import Operations|
|Murli Baker-Gabb||DAFF – Animal Import Operations|
|Sarah Horth||DAFF – Animal Import Operations|
|Kerry Daly||DAFF – Animal Import Operations|
|Sandra Cuthbert||DAFF – Animal Import Operations|
|Peter Moore||DAFF – Post Entry Quarantine Project|
|Geoff Chubb||DAFF – Animal Biosecurity|
|Janene Kingston||DAFF – Animal Biosecurity|
|Jill Millan||DAFF – Animal Biosecurity|
|Louise Sharp||DAFF – Animal Biosecurity|
|Joe Taliano||DAFF – Strategic Projects|
|Dean Merrilees||DAFF – Live Animal Exports|
|Laura Timmins||DAFF – Live Animal Exports|
|Oriana Mamone||DAFF – Animal Exports Reform Taskforce|
|Duane Roberts||DAFF – Cost Recovery|
|Peter Finnin||DAFF – South East|
|Gaylene Podhajski||DAFF – South East|
|Magda Hribar||DAFF – Central East|
|Phillip Widders||DAFF – Central East|
|Ian Sinclair||DAFF – Central East|
|Gary Kairn||Harness Racing Australia|
|Chris Burke||International Racehorse Transport|
|Crispin Bennett||Crispin Bennett International Horse Transport Pty Ltd|
|Josh Murphy||New Zealand Bloodstock|
|John Peatfield||Thoroughbred Breeders Australia|
|Brian Stewart||Werribee International Horse Centre|
|Chauncey Morris||Observer - Thoroughbred Breeders Australia|
|Grant Baldock||Equestrian Australia|
|Kevin Doyle||Australian Veterinary Association|
|Roger Lavelle||Australian Horse Industry Council|
|Andrew Kelly||Harness Racing Australia|
|Andrew Harding||Australian Racing Board Limited|
|Jennifer Stewart||DAFF – Animal Biosecurity|
|Mike Nunn||DAFF – Principal Scientist – Animal|
1. Welcome and Apologies
The Chair welcomed members to the ninth meeting of the Horse Industry Consultative Committee (HICC). The Chair noted apologies.
Meeting 8 Minutes and Actions Arising (Paper)
The Chair called for any further comments on the minutes from the eighth HICC meeting. There were no comments and the minutes were accepted.
Murli Baker-Gabb provided an update on the actions arising from previous meetings:
- CEM testing of prepubertal fillies to be addressed in Animal Biosecurity’s review of the Import Risk Analysis due in March 2012 – completed. The review is ongoing, but it includes a review of all CEM testing requirements.
- AQIS to finalise transhipment policy and conditions – completed. The policy is available on the DAFF instructional material library.
- HICC finance subcommittee to meet before the end of October 2011 to discuss the model that will be used to determine new quarantine fees once the rent review outcomes are known – completed. However, it was noted that the meeting was delayed and the model has not yet been finalised.
- HICC members to provide comment on the proposed TORs and committee membership in the next 3 weeks (by 26 October) – completed. Comments were received and new committee membership was finalised.
3. New Biosecurity Legislation
Joe Taliano provided an update on biosecurity legislation being drafted in response to the 2008 Beale review recommendation to update the Quarantine Act 1908. The new legislation is intended to better manage risks of pests and diseases entering, establishing or spreading and potentially causing harm to human health, animal health, plant health, the environment and the economy.
Improvements to the draft legislation include removing the requirement for goods to be ordered into quarantine, establishing clear processes to determine first ports, and improvements to enforcement penalties and powers for biosecurity officers.
Consultation on the draft legislation is intended to start within the coming weeks. Documents will be available for 8 weeks and a series of stakeholder meetings to discuss changes and impacts are expected to be held at various venues throughout Australia. Implementation is expected from mid to late 2013.
In response to a question on subordinate legislation, it was clarified that the drafting process is dealing with primary legislation. Subordinate legislation will be developed after further consultation.
Chris Burke queried what “establishing clear processes for determining first ports of entry” means. The Chair explained that there are many “first ports” throughout Australia, but some are not equipped to handle certain commodities, such as live animals. It is possible to develop new first points of entry if there is a desire. Also, setting standards for first ports to accept certain commodities will assist in ensuring biosecurity risks are appropriately managed.
Joe Taliano suggested any further questions or comments be submitted to new biosecurity legislation
4. Finances – Report from the HICC Finance Sub-Committee (Paper)
The Chair provided an overview of the Horse Import Program (HIP) finances. For the 2011-12 financial year, the HIP reported:
- actual total revenue of $2.339 million against budget of $1.898 million;
- actual total expenditure of $2.238 million against budget of $2.244 million;
- net operating surplus of $100 742 against a budget deficit of $346 368.
- The current budget surplus is expected to reduce the projected end of year accumulated deficit to $1.741 million from its 1 July 2011 position of $1.786 million.
The fee review was discussed briefly with more detail provided by Duane Roberts at agenda item 6.
The Chair gave an overview of new charges for PEQ inspections which were earlier discussed at the HICC finance sub-committee meeting. Historically, DAFF has not been charging offshore or in-office inspection/audit fees to industry. These fees are now being included in the cost modelling exercise and DAFF will ensure Commonwealth cost recovery requirements are met.
Chris Burke commented that the budget for the DAFF horse program seems excessive and the cost increase since the Equine Influenza Inquiry is impacting trade. Industry continues to have high costs of operation for a diminishing number of horse imports and more transparency on how DAFF costs are dictated would be appreciated.
5. Future Post-Entry Quarantine (FPEQ) Arrangements – Project update
Peter Moore provided an update on the quarantine station lease arrangements, actions arising from the last meeting, and additional information about the HICC budget.
Since the last meeting the rental lease for Eastern Creek Quarantine Station (ECQS) has been agreed at $3 million. However, government subsidies mean that the total rent cost allocated to the HIP will not increase from now until 2015, other than CPI increases of 3-4% pa.
The 2010-11 federal budget provided funding for purchase of a FPEQ facility site. An announcement about the execution of contracts for the purchase of this site will be made in the coming weeks. DAFF has been developing master plans and design briefs for this FPEQ facility for the past two months with SKM-S2F, the winner of the design contract. SKM-S2F are now continuing with the designs and anticipating a cabinet review later this calendar year for approval.
The Commonwealth has provided funding in the 2012-13 budget to develop this new FPEQ facility. Development will occur in a staged fashion with commodities moving to the new facility as leases for relevant current facilities expire from 2015. ECQS will be with the first group to come off contract, with horse facilities consequentially moving in the first phase. Exact timing is still to be determined but expected transition is the second half of 2015.
This year’s budget item, improving works at existing sites, will be completed this financial year. So far, these projects have almost all been completed on time and within budget.
Rent supplementation was also confirmed in the budget until completion of the lease at ECQS. There are a number of years to work through the fee changes that will result from using the new facility and it will be 2018 before this review is completed in its entirety.
Several questions about the new facility were raised including the property size, timeframes for completion, capital cost recovery, and potential for a government run facility at a second site (e.g. Sydney). DAFF confirmed that:
- There were criteria on property sizes that needed to be met for the site to be acceptable (120 hectares).
- The expected site works are to start the first half of 2013 and no environmental, indigenous heritage, or other issues have been found that could cause delays.
- The $379.9 million the 2011-12 Budget allocated includes capital costs, supplementary rent fees, transition period fees, etc. When the facility is built DAFF will be the tenant of the site and the rent will be determined in consultation with the department of Finance. The FPEQ facility will be classed as a special purpose property and although the rental component cost is currently unknown, it is expected to be lower than a commercial facility. Recovery of the capital costs to build the facility is not expected to be included in the rent setting process.
- There are no plans to set up a government run quarantine facility in any state other than Victoria. The cost of duplicating a facility is cost restrictive and the requirements for land, climate considerations, and pest and disease vectors, resulted in Melbourne being the best option.
Discussion ensued surrounding the cost implications and practicalities of setting up private Quarantine Approved Premises (QAPs). Chris Burke commented that at present the running costs are too uncertain to accurately evaluate feasibility. Clarification of the government costs and flow-on effects to daily fees and permit costs would make a review of the commercial feasibility simpler.
John Peatfield raised concerns about the potential for cross species disease transmission and possible increase in quarantine time for horses if an outbreak occurred in another species (i.e. not horses) when using one quarantine station. John Peatfield asked about the possibility of a part time QAP in NSW. The chair confirmed that this would be possible for industry to establish but must meet the DAFF requirements and is a commercial consideration for industry to make.
Crispin Bennett asked about the possible reduction of fees in the FPEQ facility if the HIP deficit is paid by 2015. Peter Moore confirmed that these costs have not yet been calculated but that operating costs in the FPEQ facility may be higher due to increased maintenance costs. The chair commented that the intention is to follow cost recovery guidelines. Ian Sinclair commented that the FPEQ facility would allow for increased efficiency and economy to be established.
Kevin Doyle raised concern over having only one facility, commenting that the design brief needs to ensure epidemiological issues are covered, and questioned if external input had been sought. Peter Moore stated that most of the input has been through Animal Biosecurity, the operational programs, and SKM-S2F who have expertise and contracts that they are employing to ensure these issues are covered. A visit to Werribee International horse Centre also occurred and their design was discussed. SKM-S2F will continue to look at other design equivalents.
6. Fee Review
Duane Roberts gave an overview of the changes to cost recovery procedures in the department and a summary of the horse fee review. From November 2011 the department decided that cost recovery should be centralised. Prior to this, cost recovery was managed by each business area undertaking an activity and this led to inconsistencies in charging for similar activities. This change will not create standardised fees but will create a standardised approach in defining and deciding on fees.
The HIP was advanced in its fee review when this centralisation of cost recovery came into effect and indicative prices for daily quarantine station fees had already been proposed. This information was received by the central area and cost requirements of the program, including forecast costs to 2015, are being reviewed.
Further modelling will be undertaken before a final outcome is provided. The intended implementation date for fees arising from the review was 1 July 2012; the post centralisation implementation date is now 1 October 2012. Crispin Bennett raised concerns about the need for notice to industry about fee changes as horse imports are scheduled several months in advance.
The Chair noted that one of the EI Inquiry’s recommendations was to have a clear line of sight over the finances of every activity undertaken with horses. Because we have historically grouped together all activities we have a budget that covers all horse related activities, including post-entry quarantine and cargo activities. Once the cargo related expenses are removed we will have a better understanding of the cost of the post-entry quarantine and the debt that should be proportioned as part of this program.
The Chair asked if everyone was happy with the functioning of the HICC finance sub-committee group. All agreed they were with a note that they may need to meet more frequently through the modelling process and development of a cost recovery impact statement.
7. Review of the Import Risk Analysis (IRA) for live horses (Paper)
Geoff Chubb gave an update on the IRA review and explained that some aspects of the IRA are experiencing a one month delay. He briefly commented on updates to the hazard list, considering African horse sickness, glanders and dourine, and the diseases which required review due to the existence of new information: equine influenza, equine viral arteritis (EVA), and piroplasmosis. He provided an overview on biosecurity measure options for contagious equine metritis (CEM) and requested views on these options:
- Modify existing import testing requirements for CEM in the light of scientific information obtained during the review of the IRA. This would make the import conditions more restrictive.
- Modify existing import testing requirements for CEM to two tests of external genitalia by culture or polymerase chain reaction PCR (when validated) at 4-5 days apart.
- Remove import testing requirements for CEM but retain premises freedom and mating declarations for CEM.
Geoff Chubb stated that in the past 10 years CEM has not been reported as an acute clinical disease in horses and it is probably endemic in most of northern Europe. Most positive results in this time have been detected by PCR with negative culture results and horses showing no clinical signs. Most positive PCR results in papers published in the past 10 years have been confirmed by culture. The lack of active surveillance for CEM in Australia makes it hard to confirm our CEM-free status. Currently, surveillance depends on notification of clinical disease, and some thoroughbred industry driven surveillance.
All attendees agreed that option b) was favoured as it was likely to have minimal impact on imports and exports while still providing an appropriate level of biosecurity protection. There was some discussion around the chance, albeit minimal, that the lack of deep cervical or endometrial swabbing could lead to some CEM carriers not being identified. However, it was felt that option a) would be overly restrictive and out of proportion with the risk. DAFF has discussed these options with New Zealand and is waiting on their response. DAFF also intends to take this issue to QUADs for discussion prior to possibly taking it to the OIE.
Chris Burke raised concerns about the accuracy and reliability of current serological testing for equine piroplasmosis. There was some discussion about different testing options for piroplasmosis and how piroplasmosis positive horses should be managed in PEQ facilities. Geoff Chubb confirmed that Animal Biosecurity is still considering the options for testing and management.
Chris Burke questioned the necessity of current testing for EVA in the import conditions when EVA is present in Australia. Geoff Chubb confirmed that Animal Biosecurity is considering adopting the OIE conditions for EVA, but the issue is still under review.
John Peatfield commented that Thoroughbred Breeders Australia had been contacted by media in South Africa in regards to export restrictions based on African Horse Sickness.
Revised Service Delivery Arrangements
Dean Merrilees introduced himself. He became the assistant secretary for Animal Export Operations Branch (AEOB) when Lee Cale left, previously working in Export Standards Branch and spending 3 years as the Minister Counsellor (Agriculture) in Washington.
In mid-2009 following the implementation of the Beale Review recommendations an announcement was made that an export reform package to improve efficiency would be created. One of the recommendations was that the 40% subsidy for export certification would be allowed to lapse. A Ministerial Task Force was created to look at creating efficiencies for export certification. The efficiencies the reform package is creating are largely based on the development of IT systems with DAFF moving away from manual NOIs and towards electronic applications. The paper-based system has many challenges and capacity restrictions. DAFF has also replaced ANIMEX with MICoR and put in place an automated audit management system. Under the reform package, other considerations in the service delivery models still being reviewed include evaluating if DAFF can use AQIS accredited vets for some certification. Currently DAFF are undertaking direct surveillance of every consignment and would like to move towards an audit management system that would be less resource intensive and more favourable for good exporters. Alternatively, DAFF may decide to provide options of direct surveillance for each consignment or an audit management system; however, the audit management system should cost less to industry but this would not be a mandated requirement.
New Fees and Charges
Dean Merrilees explained that the fee reviews have not changed since 2009; however, with the lapsing of the 40% subsidy the cost to exporters has dramatically changed. Cost recovery in AEOB is currently not met by several million dollars. Most of this debt is related to the new export reform project and AEOB are not yet in a position to fully cost recover. Dean Merrilees drew attention to the fact that most of these cost recovery fees will be directed to livestock industries.
AEOB would like to impose different fees for automated vs. manual applications as it is less cost intensive when electronic submissions are made. Also inspection costs are currently not being fully recovered with excessive travelling costs commonly occurring.
Chris Burke stated not recovering transport and inspection costs does not make good business sense. The operational sector of the department seems to be operating on legacy systems that are out of date and create huge imposts on importers/exporters. He also commented that there are problems with the integrity of property of origin certificates. If it were known by DAFF which areas are free of certain diseases through a central database each property should not need to be visited to confirm that they are free from those diseases. Geoff Chubb commented that difficulties arise from exporting countries requirements, when diseases are not notifiable, and because different states and territories have different disease statuses. There are also instances where the policy states that the Department of Primary Industries needs to provide the certification, so even if DAFF are aware of disease statuses they are unable to provide the certification required.
Oriana Mamone provided an overview of the Tracking Animal Certification for Export (TRACE) project. The export certification reform project was initiated to create efficiencies in the animal export program and was launched for livestock exporters in July 2011. The initial release allowed importers to submit notice of intentions (NOIs) and supporting documentation online. Releases 3 and 4 will incorporate non-livestock species and genetic material and should be released by July 2012.
Functional requirements for horse exports were collected at the end of 2010 for incorporation into the TRACE system and these functionalities will include:
- Exporter accounts
- NOI submission
- NOI management
- Workflow functionality and notifications
- Document storage of application records
Oriana Mamone explained that regular exporters will have accounts allowing them to track previous submissions and various users from one business will be able to log on and manage applications submitted by that business.
User acceptance testing will soon be undertaken and industry will be given the opportunity to make comments/suggestions to improve the system and for the development of further reiterations, e.g. ability to upload *.csv files directly onto the system. Laura Timmins commented that the use of this system is not mandatory.
UVEP Project Update (Paper)
Peter Finnin discussed the UVEP project which is a review of documentation requirements for export horses to ensure consistency between regions and to provide a clear Basis of Certification (BOC) for exporters. The project methodology involved several steps including:
- engagement with stakeholders to gain an understanding of the export process from an industry perspective, and
- the development of a BOC for each of the most common export countries.
There appears to be a lot of commonality between the varying conditions for the six most common destinations to which horses are exported to, excluding New Zealand. Once consensus is reached on the certification requirements for these common elements, the process of developing finalised BOCs for the remaining protocols will be simplified as the certification requirements for many clauses will already have been agreed.
9. Other Business
No other business items were raised.
10. Next meeting
Sydney in early October, Animal Import Operations will send an email to members to confirm the date and location.